Simple Cranberry Tequila Sunrise Cocktail Recipe

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Showcasing a wonderful exhibit of layering in cocktails, the tequila sunrise is as beautiful to look at as it is refreshing and easy to drink. With the hues of red and orange, it’s easy to understand how it got its name. I’m going to take the standard tequila sunrise and give it a festive twist, resulting in a cranberry tequila sunrise cocktail.

Why I’m Making a Cranberry Tequila Sunrise Cocktail Recipe

I love experimenting with new cocktails during the holidays and infusing them with holiday flavors. I ended up making a bit too much cranberry sauce this year, so I wanted to find additional ways to use it. I figured I’d try creating a recipe that combined a tequila sunrise and cranberry sauce for a tangy holiday drink.

Cranberry tequila sunrise cocktail garnished with a circular orange slide on the side of the glass placed on a light brown surface

In my cranberry tequila sunrise I’m going to augment the bottom layer of grenadine with cranberry sauce to give more substance to the drink without making it quite so sweet. This cranberry tequila sunrise cocktail is perfect for the holidays and for people who prefer less sweet-tasting cocktails


A tequila sunrise cocktail is a layered drink using tequila, with the overall effect of the layering to resemble a sunrise. The most common version today is made with tequila, orange juice, and grenadine. Here’s what you need:

Ingredients needed for a cranberry tequila sunrise cocktail laid out on a table
  • Cranberry sauce adds cranberry flavors and sweetness to the drink. If you don’t have cranberry sauce, you can use cranberry juice. Just know that the flavor and thickness of the drink will be weaker.
  • Ice is a staple for mixed drinks. I’ll be using cubed ice for this.
  • Tequila is the standard alcohol used in a tequila sunrise. I’ve found Milargo to be a good brand for mixed drinks. Ideally, use a silver tequila since it has a more neutral flavor.
  • Orange juice adds some tanginess to the drink. You can use pulp or pulp free, since the cranberry sauce is also a bit chunky.
  • Grenadine adds more sugar to the drink, a slight pomegranate flavor, and a vibrant color.

Recipe Instructions for a Tequila Sunrise with Cranberry

Step 1: Add Cranberry Sauce to Glass

Start with a tall glass, such as a Highball or Collins. Add cranberry sauce to the bottom of the glass. If you want to have a clean presentation, be careful not to have the sauce touch the sides for a clean look.

Step 2: Add Ice

Add ice to the glass to fill about 3/4 of the glass.

Cranberry sauce and ice in a glass that's going to be used for a cranberry tequila sunrise cocktail

Step 3: Drizzle with Grenadine

Drizzle the grenadine and allow a few seconds for it to settle.

Cranberry sauce, ice, and grenadine in a glass that's going to be used to make a tequila sunrise cocktail

Step 4: Add Tequila

Pour 1.5 ounces of tequila into the glass.

Step 5: Add Orange Juice

Fill the rest of the glass with orange juice. This will be about 3 ounces.

Cranberry tequila sunrise cocktail in a tall glass placed on a light brown placemat in the dining room

Step 6: Add a Garnish

Add a garnish to the drink if you want, such as a cranberry, orange, strawberry, lime, or cherry.

Cranberry tequila sunrise cocktail garnished with an orange slice on a brown placemat

Step 7: Mix and Enjoy

Stir the drink with a spoon or straw just enough so the ingredients combine. Drink responsibly and enjoy!

Cranberry Tequila Sunrise Cocktail Tips

Here are some tips when creating this cocktail:

  • Since I want this to be a layered cocktail, ingredients that contain a lot of sugar will be added to the drink first. This is because sugar is heavy and will sink. The cranberry sauce will be the heaviest ingredient (both because of the sugar and thickness of the sauce), so that will sit at the bottom of my glass.
  • Typically, you shake drinks that contain citrus and ice. However, in order to get the layered effect that tequila sunrises are known for, I’m not going to shake it. But, you can stir it before drinking.

Related Questions

What Tequila Is Best for a Cranberry Tequila Sunrise?

The best tequila to use is a high-quality 100% agave tequila. Blanco or reposado tequilas are typically used as they provide a smoother taste and won’t overpower the orange juice and grenadine flavors in the cocktail. I used Milagro tequila, which is a blanco (or silver) tequila.

What Is the Red Syrup in Tequila Sunrise with Cranberry?

The red syrup in a tequila sunrise is grenadine, a sweet and tangy pomegranate-flavored syrup. It adds a burst of fruity flavor and a vibrant red hue to the cocktail, creating a beautiful sunrise effect when mixed with orange juice, tequila, and cranberry sauce. It’s a classic ingredient in this popular cocktail and a must-have in any home bar.

Why Is a Cranberry Tequila Sunrise Unmixed?

A cranberry tequila sunrise is actually a mixed cocktail, despite its layered appearance. The reason for its unmixed appearance is due to the specific way the ingredients are layered in the glass. 

The denser cranberry sauce and grenadine sink to the bottom due to their weight, while the lighter orange juice and tequila float on top, creating the iconic sunrise effect. To enjoy the full flavor of the cocktail, it’s recommended to give it a gentle stir before drinking.

A top view of a tequila sunrise cocktail with a slice of orange in a glass placed on a brown surface

Cranberry Tequila Sunrise Cocktail

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Course: Drinks
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1 Serving
Calories: 179kcal


  • 1 tablespoon cranberry sauce
  • Handful of ice
  • 1.5 ounces Tequila
  • 3 ounces orange juice
  • ¼ ounces Grenadine
  • Garnish optional: cherry, cranberry, strawberry, orange, or lime


  • Start with a tall glass (highball / collins), and add cranberry sauce to bottom of it
  • Add ice to the glass
  • Drizzle the grenadine down the side of the glass or on the back of a spoon and allow a few seconds for it to settle  
  • Add tequila
  • Top off with orange juice
  • Add Garnish (optional) 
  • Mix and enjoy


Calories: 179kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 0.2g | Saturated Fat: 0.02g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.03g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.03g | Sodium: 4mg | Potassium: 177mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 176IU | Vitamin C: 43mg | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 0.3mg
Beginner's Guide to Mixed Drinks and Cocktails

Nathaniel Lee is an avid cook, drawing on his decades of home cooking and fine dining experience. He is a contributing chef at Mashed, and his recipes and contributions have been featured in Tasting Table, Edible Arrangements, Insanely Good Recipes, and The Daily Meal.

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